By Ankit Panda
As Russia’s defense minister visits Pakistan, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff visits Washington.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pakistan for a day-long visit on Thursday. During his visit to Islamabad, Shoigu met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the two addressed several issues related to security and defense cooperation between Russia and Pakistan. The two countries will sign an important memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation that will form the foundation of their growing defense partnership. Although Russia is a major arms exporter to Pakistan’s rival India, it is looking to shore up its involvement in Pakistan amid that country’s growing appetite for Russian hardware. Most recently, Pakistan concluded a deal to purchased MI-35 Hind helicopters from Russia.
According to Dawn, Russia’s decision to court Pakistan as a defense customer was in part spurred by growing ties between the United States and India. Although Russia has been major military supplier for India — providing up to 75 percent of Indian military hardware needs in certain years — the United States has been steadily growing its defense partnership with India. With a government less committed to Indian ideals of non-alignment in charge in New Delhi, India has grown closer to the United States on a series of defense matters. In 2014, India became the largest foreign buyer of U.S. weapons, importing $1.9 billion in military hardware from the United States. In August, reports emerged that the U.S. had overtaken Russia as India’s top arms supplier over the past three years. Sensing an opportunity on the other side of the security dilemma on the subcontinent, Russia has chosen to focus its efforts on courting Pakistan.
Read the full story at The Diplomat